FSFLA: Linux kernel is "open core"
Posted Nov 14, 2010 23:19 UTC (Sun) by dwmw2
In reply to: FSFLA: Linux kernel is "open core"
Parent article: FSFLA: Linux kernel is "open core"
"I believe computers should obey their users. This userspace program you suggest could do nothing but accept or reject software that users have installed on their computers. IMHO, that doesn't make sense. If users chose to install certain software on their computers, the computers had better obey when users command run it or install it. Anything else is, erhm, defective by design, if you get what I mean."
And yet you're still peddling an implementation which is broken by design
in precisely this way.
If I run your linux-libre kernel but I do still need my wireless to work using the firmware which was present in my laptop when it arrived, your current implementation does "protect me from myself", because it won't load that firmware even when I deliberately extract it from the OSX driver and place it in /lib/firmware in my Linux system. That used to work, and you have broken it even for the user who has made an informed choice.
"Even if the userland program could
indeed clean up the log messages from a local machine, it can't go back
in time and prevent the kernel from having issued the request, so it
can't do what I want."
I do understand what you want; I just think it's fundamentally misguided.
What you now claim you want is pointless, and no longer directly related to the originally stated goals.
Your argument that a call from kernel to udev is inducement is just nonsense. I don't know why you're fixating on it, but there seems to be no valid technical reason. You might just as well argue that the call from the driver into the core kernel is similarly inducing the user to use the specified firmware (if, of course, said firmware happens to be only available in a non-free form today). And thus even your version would be inducing the user to use non-Free software.
You have chosen to draw the technical line in a completely arbitrary place, and you now seems to be making up arguments to support your implementation instead of trying to come up with an implementation which makes more technical sense. That's your prerogative, but don't pretend it's because we don't understand what you want.
To me, this argument is not about the ethical issue; the fact here is that you have made a technically poor decision and you're trying to back it up with transparently empty rhetoric instead of discarding your precious implementation and doing something more sensible.
"All of this because you seem
*DETERMINED* to do it at a place other than the one that has all the
This is also completely incorrect. The kernel does not
have all the relevant information. It is only userspace which can know the current
licence status of the firmware which is available for download from the various package repositories, not the kernel.
In the kernel we can only have an out-of-date idea of the last known status; we can't know if there has been a free reimplementation in the last few days. And as you say, the kernel developers aren't always completely on the ball when it comes to licence status. The distributions are far better at labelling things correctly.
Only by leaving the kernel unbroken and handling the full request in userspace can we actually achieve what you said was your technical goal. Anything else is disingenuous.
And if you do plan to rely on the out-of-date knowledge of the author of the kernel driver, then it is doubly disingenuous to do so in the case of devices which load their firmware through the OS, but not in the case of devices which load their firmware from built-in storage. There is no excuse for breaking one but not the other, if you're claiming that the most up-to-date licensing information is from the kernel authors.
So unless your next version of the linux-libre patch also removes support for hard drives on the basis that there are no known devices with fully free firmware, I call you a fraud.
¹ I note with interest that you don't include the option of looking for, or even implementing, a free version of the firmware for the device in question. That's what we should be encouraging, but you seem to have entirely missed what I and many others think should be the point. You are being destructive, not constructive.
to post comments)